New International Track & Field DS Review

Track and Field couldn't find a better time to make a comeback. Konami's classic arcade experience arrives just when the Beijing 2008 games are about to take place. The main difference here, however, is that New International Track and Field is way more fun than trying to watch someone compete for Olympic gold on television. It's all about going for your own world records.

This latest Track and Field game features 24 events, including six from the original 80s arcade game, a few from its coin-op follow-up Hyper Sports and several new ones. These vary, ranging from running events (100 meter dash, 100 meter hurdles) to throwing events (shot put, javelin throw) to more skill-related events (skeet shooting, weightlifting). Although you can play them yourself, the real fun comes from competing against others through single or multi-cartridge play.

Single-cartridge play is an effective option, especially if your friends haven't picked up the game. However, be forewarned that these sessions have limitations. You're only given so much access to events and characters, and it takes a great deal of time to load. Multi-cartridge play, however, is more open, letting you pick your events and characters however you see fit. Better still, the Wi-Fi Connection lets you shoot for global records against others. There's nothing like getting into a high jump contest with a San Francisco native at around four in the morning.

Sumo Digital wisely implemented two control types for the Track and Field events. Both of these methods rely on quick, rapid movement, such as the mashing of buttons or the constant zigzagging of a stylus across the screen. Although the touch-screen controls are effective, they're bound to quickly wear out your DS screen. We humbly recommend sticking with the old-school button mashing style. No matter which one you choose, however, you'll shake your system like crazy, making it that much tougher to see what's happening on-screen.

Aside from these small issues, New International Track and Field is a good Olympic simulator. Most of the events are fun to play, either by your lonesome or with others. The revamped presentation bears a resemblance to the original arcade game, although the characters have better personality this time around. The soundtrack is also very good, paying tribute to the original game with a rendition of the Chariots of Fire theme.

If the multiplayer competition doesn't keep you occupied, the heaping amount of unlockable content certainly will. Various challenges are waiting to be unlocked, along with hidden characters (some from the classic Konami game library), trophies, costumes and more. Don't be surprised if you find this game lingering in your DS system long after the Olympics are over.

Consider Sumo Digital three for three in retro gaming reduxes, starting with the Outrun and Virtua Tennis games before doing a bang-up job with New International Track and Field. It not only has the variety that Olympic fans are looking for, but, more importantly, it also has the fun. Just make sure you prep your thumb for a good workout. You're going to need it.

What's Hot: Tons of events, multiplayer options and online world record boards, a great presentation that tips its hat to the classic arcade Track and Field.

What's Not: Single-cartridge downloadable play is too limited and takes a while to set up, the action is hard to see while you're mashing buttons or dragging the stylus.

4/5